e-Commerce innovation has reduced customer’s friction. The next revolution will reduce backend friction.

I’ll never forget the joy and relief the first time I did all my holiday shopping online. No lines at the mall, no parking, no lugging boxes to and from the car. It took all the stress – and friction – out of the shopping process.

As the e-commerce industry has matured, innovation has focused on eliminating friction points for busy, stressed customers:

  • One-Click Shopping reduces the number of steps to put something in your shopping cart and check out
  • Same Day and Next Day Delivery satisfies immediate needs and saves time from running to the store or mall
  • Improved product search makes it easier to find items in a large ecommerce catalog and get just what you need (or want)
  • Improved site performance so online shoppers don’t waste time or deal with poor page performance
  • Mobile friendly sites engage shoppers on the go and to satisfy their micro-moment needs (which are typically driven by mobile interactions)

The net result is that e-commerce now totals $340 billion in spending and counts for more than 10% of total retail sales.

This is great for shoppers. For back-end business users? Not so much…

This innovation has been great for shoppers and consumers, but has also created a vegetable soup of technologies for business’s to manage – CMS, PIM, ERP, OMS, VM, AVS, POS and more!

It also means businesses have had to invest in staff and resources to become “technology shops” rather than focusing on their product category core competency or customer segment they serve. This technology fueled innovation has also come at a high cost thanks to traditional on-premise software with hefty licensing and implementation costs (not to mention hosting and ongoing support).

That’s why the cloud is the next revolution – to reduce friction on the backend

Over the past few years we have seen solutions come to market with platforms designed for smaller online retailers. But recently we have also seen the industry’s largest players “go all in” on cloud – including Oracle’s 2015 launch of the Oracle Commerce Cloud and Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Demandware.

Cloud based e-commerce is going upmarket and is about to become the most disruptive force since the first virtual shopping cart came online.

One of the key factors driving this transition is that the market has matured and the processes and software that enable companies to get online quickly and generate revenue have become standard best practices.  This has enabled e-commerce software providers to take proven models and processes and leverage economies of scale to build solutions that help online retailers get to market quickly without the traditional headaches.

Some benefits of this new paradigm include:

  • Faster time to market thanks to a proven, scalable implementation processes
  • Common functionality and skill sets across platforms that enable rapid business user adoption
  • Standardized technology reduces the need for complex integrations or customizations
  • Configurations instead of coding make implementations faster and less dependent on technical resources
  • Robust functionality delivers traditional enterprise level features to a broader customer base

All of this means reduced friction for businesses that need to reinvigorate their e-commerce programs and compete in an ever increasing busy marketplace.

Reduced friction means a new focus on experience instead of tools

In the long run, this cloud driven e-commerce revolution is going to go full circle and come back to the customer by reducing friction for them too. In a future where back-end users and business managers have access to flexible, scalable e-commerce technology, it means they can return to their core focus and brand value promise – their customers.

It’s a premise that once the tools are easy to implement and use, you can focus on your core purpose and differentiating your products and content in the market rather than trying to figure out how to use the technology.

An e-commerce revolution is coming. While technology is the driver, it will change how online retailers run their e-commerce businesses and will drive new skill sets. Early adopters will ramp up quickly to compete with established market players.

And thanks to this revolution that will reduce back-end friction, we will see continued growth throughout the entire e-commerce marketplace.

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